Neuroscience and Behavior Major Requirements

Biology (CC) - Professor Stuart Firestein, 1011B Fairchild, 854-4531, [email protected] 
Biology (GS) - Professor Debby Mowshowitz, 744D Mudd, 854-4497, [email protected]

Psychology (CC & GS)  - Prof. Alfredo Spagna, To make an appointment pertaining to questions about your undergraduate studies click here. [email protected]


The Department of Psychology and the Department of Biological Sciences co-sponsor a combined major in neuroscience and behavior. In addition to one year of general chemistry, ten courses are required to complete the major, five from Biology and five from Psychology.

A grade of C- or better must be earned and revealed on your transcript for any course -- including the first semester -- to be counted towards the major or concentration requirements. The grade of P is not acceptable, but a course that was taken P/D/F may be counted if and only if the P is uncovered by the Registrar's deadline. (Please note that an exception is made for major courses taken in Spring 2020, when all courses were Pass-Fail).

Any exceptions must be approved in advance by an Advisor and you must receive an email notification of that approval.  

At least 4 biology or biochemistry courses, and at least 4 psychology courses, must be taken at Columbia. That means that a maximum of one biology course and one psychology course from another institution (including Barnard) may be credited toward the major. (See below for details.) Barnard courses may not be substituted for the required Columbia courses without advance permission from the advisor. If you are planning to study abroad, please meet with your Advisor before you go. You'll need prior approval for any major courses that you take abroad.

NOTE: Numbering does not reflect difficulty but rather whether UGs & graduate students have different requirements:
3000 – Only UGs register
4000 – UGs and graduate students perform the same
5000 – Only graduate students register, requires additional work beyond the 3000 course; sometimes the 3000 (UGs) & 5000 (Grad.) are different versions of the same course, i.e. same time, location and lectures


1. Biology UN2005 - Introductory Biology I: Biochemistry, Genetics & Molecular Biology (Barnard courses cannot be used for Intro Bio)

2. Biology UN2006 - Introductory Biology II: Cell Biology, Development & Physiology (Barnard courses cannot be used for Intro Bio)

3. UN3004 - Neurobiology I: Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

4. UN3005 - Neurobiology II: Developmental and Systems

5. One additional 3000 or 4000 level biology lecture course from the following:
Prior approval is required for any course not on this list.

  • UN3006 - Physiology
  • UN3019 - Brain Evolution
  • UN3022 - Developmental Biology
  • UN3025 - Neurogenetics
  • UN3031 - Genetics
  • UN3799/GU4799 - Readings-Molecular Biology of Cancer
  • UN3034/GU4034 - Biotechnology
  • UN3025 - Neurogenetics
  • UN3041 - Cell Biology
  • UN3073 - Cellular and Molecular Immunology
  • UN3193/GU4193 - Stem Cell Biol & Applications
  • BIOC UN3300 - Biochemistry
  • UN3310/GU4310 - Virology
  • UN3320 - Regulation of Behaviors for Surviva
  • UN3404 - Antimicrobial Resistance
  • BIOC UN3501/GU4501 - Biochemistry
  • BIOC UN3512/GU4501 - Molecular Biology
  • UN3560 - Evolutionary Biology in the Genomic Era
  • GU4008 - The Cellular Physiology of Disease
  • GU4011 - Neural Syst: Circuits in the Brain
  • GU4036 - Transformative Concepts in Systems Biology
  • GU4082 - Theoretical Foundations and Applications of Biophysical Methods
  • GU4300 - Drugs and Disease
  • GU4400 - Computational Genomics
  • GU4510 - Genomics of Gene Regulation
  • GU4560 - Evolutionary Biology in the Genomic Era
  • GU4008 - Advanced Seminar in Neurobiology (topic varies)
  • GU4035 - Seminar in Epigenetics
  • GU4070 - Single Molecular Approach to Biology
  • GU4075 - Biology at Physical Extremes
  • GU4080 - Ancient and Modern RNA Worlds
  • GU4260 - Proteomics Lab
  • GU4290 - Biological Microscopy
  • BIOC GU4323 - Biophysical Chemistry I
  • BIOC GU4324 - Biophysical Chemistry II

Note: SCNC & HPSC courses do not count towards the Major even if listed under Biology courses on Bio web site.
BIOT courses will not be counted towards the Major. 

Transfer Credit for biology Courses taken elsewhere. A student may apply to the biology advisor to have one course from another institution applied toward the biology portion of the Neuroscience and Behavior major. To beapproved for transfer credit, the grade received in the course taken at the other institution must be B- or better. To fulfill requirements 1-4, the course must be substantially similar to one offered by the department. If a student has taken a year of introductory biology at another institution, the student has the option of retaking one or two terms of the introductory biology sequence here or taking 4 upper level biology courses instead of the usual 3.


For the definitive list of psychology requirements, see the Psychology Dept. web site. 

1. PSYC UN1001 - The science of psychology

2. PSYC UN2430 Cognitive Neuroscience or PSYC UN2450 - Behavioral Neuroscience

NOTE: Students who have previously taken PSYC UN1010 Mind, Brain and Behavior may use that course to fulfill this requirement.

3. One lab or statistics course from the following:

  • PSYC UNS2210Q - Cognition: Basic Processes or
  • PSYC UN1420 - Experimental Psychology: Human Behavior
  • PSYC UN1450 - Experimental Psychology: Social Cognition and Emotion or
  • PSYC UN1490 - Experimental Psychology: Cognition and Decision Making or
  • PSYC UN1610 - Introductory Statistics for Behavioral Scientists or
  • PSYC UN1660 - Advanced Statistical Inference or
  • STAT 1101 Introduction to Statistics or
  • STAT 1211 Calculus-Based Introduction to Statistics

4. One additional 2000 or 3000 level psychology course from a list approved by the Psychology Departmental adviser to the program. see the department website 

5. One advanced psychology seminar from a list approved by the Psychology Department adviser to the program. see the department website.

Transfer Credit for Psychology Courses taken elsewhere. Students should consult a psychology advisor before registering for psychology courses offered outside the department. With the advisor’s approval, one, and only one, course from another institution, including Barnard, may be applied toward the psychology portion of the neuroscience and behavior major. Students who wish to obtain credit for a course taken at Barnard or at another institution should complete the Major Requirement Substitution Form. To be approved for the major, the course should be substantially similar to one offered by this department and approved for this major, and the grade received must be a C- or better if from Barnard, or B- or better if from another institution. Advanced placement (AP) psychology scores will not satisfy the PSYC W1001 requirement.

Note: No course may be counted twice in fulfillment of the above biology or psychology requirements. A grade of C-, or higher, must be earned in any Columbia course that is used to satisfy the major requirement. Also, courses taken on a pass/fail or pass/D/fail basis may not be used to satisfy the major requirement.

CHEMISTRY: 1 year of General Chemistry is required.

NOTE: Most graduate programs in Neuroscience require 1 year of calculus, 1 year of physics and chemistry through organic.

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